It’s been all over the news, and if you haven’t heard about it, then I envy you. Seriously. What started off as a small student protest ended up with the resignation of the President of the University of Missouri system along with a chancellor.
There’s been racial tension on that campus for a while based on what I’ve read. Even before the events of Ferguson cast a spotlight onto the state of Missouri, there were issues of racial animosity permeating on the campus of the University of Missouri. There was the cotton balls incident where balls of cotton were strewn about in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on the school’s campus. There have been other ones along the way as well.
If you have small problems and neglect them, they can sometimes snowball into huge problems and overwhelm you. This is exactly what I think has just happened to former Missouri University System President Tim Wolfe. What was random small incidents of racist behavior congealed into one huge clusterf**k that ended up with him losing his post.
Kids are going to be kids. That’s just the truth. Ignorant people will be ignorant. That’s also true. What appears to not have happened in Missouri, however is that there was no serious concerted effort to reduce or minimize these incidents. There were initiatives and required training for faculty and students. That doesn’t get to the root of the problem though. All schools have codes of conduct, and at some point, you have to remove the sources of your problem before they end up wrecking the entire system.
I’m not going to try to be the president and tell him how to run his schools, but I’m sure that expelling students who violate the code of conduct with discriminatory behavior would lead to a reduction in that behavior if it happens often enough and is publicized. Giving students a slap on the hand and letting them continue can sometimes lead to more problems than benefits. Also, trying to justify such behavior isn’t going to help either.
Discussing this topic on another blog, I had this comment directed at me. Usually, I won’t bring other things here, but I think this is a perfect example of how/why this snowballed into something huge.
“It is kinda funny to act like there wouldn’t be a white backlash to black folks in Ferguson trashing a city and some whites becoming more hostile to blacks. Hard to believe that people can’t make the connection in terms of race relations. Did black folks really think that some whites in Missouri wouldn’t react negatively to seeing blacks trash a city over a completely trumped up LIE over a police shooting. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The hostility of some whites is nothing more than a reaction to the behavior they see in black folks in Ferguson and other places. You reap what you sow.”
Now, I may be wrong, but the highlighted parts of that comment seem to try to justify racist behavior towards the Black students at the University of Missouri because of protests and riots in Ferguson. If that is indeed the case (which I’m hoping it is not), since when did acting racist become acceptable behavior because you don’t like the actions of others? What kind of society do we live in when someone wants to justify being racist because other people of a minority group did something stupid and criminal? Does this mean that we Black people get to act racist towards Whites because of the riots after sporting events, pumpkin festivals, or G-8 Summit protests??? Gimme an effin’ break… Nobody’s going to suggest such a thing.
I’ll say this. I applaud the students of the University of Missouri for using their 1st Amendment Right to free speech to petition the government over their grievances. I applaud them for doing it in a civil manner, in light of the not-so-civil reactions they’ve stirred in others. I hope the school can put the dumb crap behind them in the past and work together towards building a unified family atmosphere. I also hope the administration of the Missouri University System can use this opportunity to re-evaluate their thinking and programs towards student conduct to try to minimize such things happening in the future.